Barrow is the most widespread type of monuments that has reached our days from the early Iron Age. Barrow is an artificial construction made of stones or ground and enlivens modern landscape of steppes, semi-deserts and foothills.
The greatest number of burial mounds is concentrated in the areas of winter pastures, places which were the most valuable for ancient cattle-breeders and where they came back in winter every year. Archaeologists discovered and investigated unique monuments of the early Iron Age there.
In 1949 scientist from Leningrad (Saint Petersburg) S.S. Chernikov began studying of the burial mound in Chiliktinskaya valley situated in 100 kilometers to the South from Zaisan Lake. This mountainous natural boundary which has raising Monrak and Tarbagatai mountain range on both sides appeared to be completely covered with big barrows. Thirteen of them were 8-10 meter in height and 100 meter in diameter.
Many decades the valley welcomed powerful union of nomadic tribes who came there for the winter. Burial-vault of their clannish and tribal elites was also located there. That was the custom: winter pastures guaranteed safety of herds and with the aim to obtain the land ancient nomadic tribes always constructed burials exactly in this place.
Grand barrow in Chiliktinskaya valley has been attracted attention of local ethnographers for a long time; they made an attempt to excavate one of them. However, after the landslide of dug trench archaeologists gave up. And only in 1949 the first archaeological material was obtained.
At the beginning they opened one relatively small barrow. Under its 3-meter mound in a ground hole covered with timbered fin archaeologists found dispersed bones of human skeleton and several golden accessories and items made of bronze, iron, stone and bone.
Urgent works on investigation of the monuments situated in the flooding zone of the Bukhtarminskaya hydropower plant made them to stop excavation of such interesting barrow and only 10 years later Chirnikov could return to the Chiliktinskaya valley which attracted him all these years.
First excavation of big burial mound did not bring expected results: burglars were there long before the archaeologists. Another two barrows discovered in 1960 were robbed as well. Only the third burial mound appeared successful for researchers. Under its 6-meter mound archaeologist found a hole (7,1×8,3) of 1 meter in depth. A ditch or so called dromos of 2 meters in length branched off from it. Square construction of 1,2 meters in height and of 4,8×4,6 meters made of massive deciduous timbers was inside. On the Western wall of this peculiar crypt on wooden floor made of planed planks skeletons of two buried people — man of 40-50 years old and women of 50-60 years old — were found.
This barrow was robbed. Approximately 50 years after the burial somebody tried to find values here. However, even survival items were of the great scientific interest. There was quiver stitched of fur with short and hard nap and 8 arrows with bronze heads. Archaeologists also found many golden accessories for clothes and head-dress and golden plaques in the form of deer’s figures which obviously were sewn on the quiver.
Most accessories depicted deer, eagles, panthers, boars, birds or fish. Altogether 524 golden items were found in Chiliktinskii barrow. Analysis of archaeological material allowed attributing it to the 7th-6th centuries B.C.
Agapov P., Kadyrbayev M. (1979) Treasure of ancient Kazakhstan, Alma-Ata: Zhalyn. 252 p. (in Russian)